Archive for the ‘A Dog Owner’s Life’ Category

SquirrelI stood at the back door, coffee in hand, looking the perfect picture of the composed stay-at-home mom,  relaxing and watching my preschooler play.  This picture lasted for about a minute as serenity is not really the picture of the stay-at-home mom.  As I had been standing there admiring my son’s ability to entertain himself, my dogs had been entertaining themselves.  They had cornered a squirrel and just as I realized what they were about to do Jackson took the squirrel in his mouth and started shaking it around like a rag doll.  Simultaneously, I realized my preschooler had taken notice of the situation.

Zane began screaming, “Mommy, Jack-Jack is breaking the squirrel!”

I took a moment to carefully sit my coffee down before I began to frantically search for something to throw at the dog and jump off of the deck screaming at the dog to “drop it.”  To my utter amazement, he did.  Unfortunately this surprised both Jackson and the squirrel.  The squirrel laid there in the mulch not sure what to do but Jackson quickly recovered from his obvious stupidity and grabbed the squirrel back in his jaws and began his awful game of shaking the life out of the squirrel.

I should interrupt this narrative though to explain that as much as I would never go out and kill a squirrel for the fun of it, I am not the world’s biggest animal advocate.  My real motive in trying to save this squirrel’s life was to avoid cleaning up a dead animal afterwards.  There are a lot of messes I understand I will have to clean up but dead squirrel is where I draw the line.

So I continued to chase and scream and wave the yellow bin I had picked up to throw at the dog.  I became Super Ann as I bounded through the woods and around the playset swinging the bin and screaming at my dog.  To Jackson I must have looked like I was ready to kill him.  He dropped the squirrel again and once again followed a command, returning to the deck to be let inside. Leaving the squirrel lying in the mulch trying to catch his breath, I headed up onto the deck to let Jackson in the house.  But alas, it was a trick.  Jackson leapt over the railing and headed back to the squirrel.  This little dance lasted another ten minutes.  Me chasing and screaming, Jackson grabbing the squirrel and dropping him, the squirrel scrambling for safety only to be grabbed again and Zane screaming at the top of his lungs for me to fix the broken squirrel.

A more together mom may have grabbed her child, taken him in the house and enticed the dog into the house with a treat but I have never claimed to be a together mom.  Being a together mom would certainly give me less material for writing.  I would like to say here that I came up with a wonderful solution, but I didn’t.  In the end I just got lucky.  During one of the times I was able to chase the dog onto deck the squirrel was able to climb onto a low branch and with very little grace, fall over the fence into my neighbor’s yard. I will once again confess here, my first thought was not, “Thank God the squirrel is safe.”  No, my first thought was, “Thank God, someone else will have to clean up that mess.”

Fortunately, there is a happy ending.  After putting the dogs in the house and consoling Zane and setting him up with Blue’s Clues I went back into the backyard and looked over the fence.  I knew there was a chance I would still be obligated to clean up the mess or worse case scenario, put the poor squirrel out of his misery but I did it anyway.  Expecting to see the remains of this poor little squirrel I was very happy to see not a trace.  No animal, no fur and no blood.

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Lying in the middle of the road, not sure what, if anything, was broken, still holding on to Misty’s leash, I thought, “This could only happen to me.”  It was the price of guilt.  Misty is not my favorite dog.  She is beautiful and sweet and very athletic but she is also completely out of control.  She runs, like a three year old child, with total abandon.  So I never take her for a run.  I leave that to my husband.

Unfortunately, on Sunday my husband chose to go to the gym.  As he headed out the door to the gym, I took Jackson, our other weimeraner for a run.  We ran fast and far.  We ran the trails by our house and every step of the way we were in sync.  Jackson is a great runner.  On the leash he doesn’t pull and tug the way Misty does.  He is controllable.  Misty is not.  Sunday we had a wonderful run.  It was as though the rain had subsided just for us. Everything about our run was perfect.

Afterwards, as I approached the house I began to feel guilty.  I knew Misty would be sitting at the door waiting, hoping for a run.  I hoped against hope that Blaise would be home from the gym and willing to take Misty for a short run.  Of course he wasn’t so I was faced with the sad puppy dog eyes that wrench at my heart and send my guilt gauge into the red zone.  I had to take her.

I put her leash on and explained, as though she would understand, that we were only going to run for twenty minutes.  She could run on the trails but she had to be good.  I swear she promised.  But alas she broke that promise.  Before we had gotten to the end of the driveway she had turned around and jumped on me with both paws pounding into my chest.  She was not controllable.

I should have turned around but the guilt wouldn’t let me.  I kept running.  She wanted to run fast so I let her set the pace.  She pulled and tugged and I tried to control her but somehow as we turned the corner at the front of the neighborhood, in front of a parade of cars she hit me from behind sending me flying five feet into the air.  It is funny how many things go through you mind at moments like that.  I thought about the surgeon in New York who fell off his bike and cracked his head on the curb.  I thought of the marathon I was supposed to have run that morning but flaked out on.  I watched as my feet slowly raised above my head and like a seesaw my head descended toward the asphalt.

I have no idea how I twisted or turned or how I managed to see all of the brake lights before I hit the ground with my right arm/elbow/shoulder contorted underneath me and my left hip touching on the other side.  I have no idea how long I sat in that position assessing my injuries before people started getting out of their cars, suppressing laughter or horror, to see if they could help.  I do know that all I could think is that this really could only happen to me.

As someone helped me by taking my dog and someone else helped me to my feet I realized I had been lucky.  I hadn’t cracked my head open and I hadn’t broken anything.  I was banged up pretty good but I would survive to run another day.  I would love to say I learned a lesson about guilt but I didn’t.  I am sure that one day soon Misty will once again use those puppy dog eyes and I will once again give in and take her for that promised run.  Just not today.

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